the yellow pigs

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you up to date on the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “Bunnies And Flies” (which was my very first post in my very first May), among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.I think the guy I live with was doing something scary like pressing buttons on the stove, which is why I had to be way out where I was. Behind my Personal Hill. Sometimes things can be scary.

We haven’t had much of any thunder–talk about scary–despite the way the afternoon and evening skies look, which I understand is increasingly typical for this time of year and the next few months.But someone has been setting off huge, loud firecrackers and so I have to stay pretty close to my fort. I prefer my kitchen fort for total safety, though my upstairs bedroom fort will do in a pinch.

There have been ants swarming, or whatever it is that ants do when they all gather together, on our walks, lately.These are really little ants, but they still bite, so I avoid them. I also hop gingerly over the red ant piles because the guy I live with, who knows my likes and dislikes pretty well, says that having red ants crawl on me would be very high on my list of dislikes. Having something land on my is even higher on my list, but red ants don’t fly.

Speaking of things that fly, the guy I live with said “The yellow pigs are back”, and at first I was confused, because I know pigs don’t fly, but he meant goldfinches. These pictures were taken using the point-and-shoot zoom feature so they’re not super sharp, but you get the idea.You can see that the thistle feeder was only filled a little, which is kind of an odd thing to say, since if it was filled it would be full, but I guess we say “fill” even if we don’t makes things completely full.

The reason why it was only partially filled was that all through the winter the thistle feeder had thistle seed in it, and the guy I live with discovered that the seed had gone rancid, or old anyway, so he bought some new seed and put only that much in the feeder to see if anyone was interested, and now the goldfinches are visiting, and they will eat a lot of seed. He says goldfinches are pretty delightful so the “pig” business is what they call a term of endearment, not a criticism. The feeder will be completely filled in the next couple of days, because there can be twenty goldfinches on the feeder at once.

We have another visitor, too. 

That’s a male Bullock’s oriole. We’ve seen females too. They all really like the grape jelly in the feeder. There should be half an orange skewered on the rod that the feeder hangs from, but someone forgot to buy oranges.

I know I talk about orioles every time they show up here, but maybe I also didn’t say that even though this feeder is an excellent one, when it was filled with sugar-water one year a bunch of bees got trapped in it, so it doesn’t get filled with sugar-water any more.

What else? Oh, the lilacs are flowering; this is a very good year for them. But ‘President Lincoln’ has bacterial blight or something really bad and so may have to be removed, or at least severely pruned. You’re supposed to clean the pruner blades with alcohol and the guy I live with wondered if cognac would be okay. There’s a bottle of Hennessy which is used for cooking, though not very often. I think there isn’t any rubbing alcohol in the house. Anyway this problem began year before last, and seems not to be getting worse, but also not to be going away.

And now we have tomatoes. I know this is hard to believe. There are four different kinds.I guess these will be grown in large plastic pots. You can see that one has already been potted and is sitting in the glazed ceramic pot.

Today I was left alone at home, all by myself, so that the guy I live with could go to the big plant sale at Denver Botanic Gardens. He bought three plants. (An Arctostaphylos ‘Cascade’ and two Phlomis crinita.)Why even go? The guy I live with’s friend had to work, and parking in inner-city Denver is not what you would call a delight, so, why go?

I know I already said that May is not the guy I live with’s favorite month. It’s Number Twelve on his list of favorite months, in fact. He said it was the smell of May in Denver, partly, that evoked all these traumatic memories, as well as the onset of severe storm warnings, but also, the last day of the month will mark eleven years since he retired.

Retirement was something he always fantasized about and when he retired it was so massively traumatic that he thought about going back to work again, started worrying about all kinds of things, and then two years less one week after he retired, his wife died very suddenly, and all of that comes back with the scent of May.

On the other hand, he’s gone to the plant sale possibly every year for the last thirty years, and Denver is extremely beautiful at this time of year, so going seemed like the right thing to do, even though I didn’t get to go.

I think the main reason why bunches of plants weren’t purchased is that the guy I live with had a hard time finding a parking place, and would have had to drag plants about ten blocks, to the car. Of course the real reason why he didn’t buy a lot of plants is that he didn’t buy a little red wagon like he said he was going to. He had a wagon, about sixty years ago, and couldn’t say what happened to it, and just never got around to buying another one.

So anyway that’s what’s been going on. Mostly really nothing. I’ll leave you with a picture of me relaxing on the patio. The concrete is extremely cool, if you didn’t know. 

Until next time, then.



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46 Responses to the yellow pigs

  1. lifecameos says:

    I hope the weather improves with summer and your guy feels happier.

  2. Diane Lancaster says:

    Hi, Mani. I think that bird is a Western Tanager.

    • That’s what I was thinking, too. Western Tanager. Other than that, Mani’s got it all by the tail.

    • paridevita says:

      You know, I told the guy I live with it was a western tanager. Or at least not an oriole. I know orioles, because I made a post, “Of Orioles And Rain”, shortly after I arrived here. And they’re here every year, eating grape jelly. But no, he said it was an oriole. So I went along with him because he’s getting really old.

  3. Nell says:

    It’s 92 with a hot wind here today, so when I came in from watering a few things it was a great pleasure to see the picture of you on the cool concrete. I’m saving it because it makes me feel cooler just looking at it, and it seems as if that will come in handy a lot in the next few months.

    Do the buttons on the stove make high-pitched beeps, and that’s what’s scary? The schnauzer who used to live here had the same reaction to the buttons on the microwave, so we used to invite him to head outside when we needed to operate it. The chocolate lab who succeeded him was so fixated on food that she would come running at the sound, even though she almost never got offered any of what was being warmed up. There was always a chance for drips or spills, which for a while she did her best to increase by leaning gently into the legs of anyone carrying food or drink. I’m sure your manners are better than that, Mani.

    Nice little haul from the plant sale for TGYLW! In the irrational way that gardeners do, I long for a manzanita, whose requirements for dry summers would be impossible to meet here. Those warm-colored branches are so beautiful at every time of year, but especially late fall and winter. They’ll set you off even more elegantly than the new fence when you lie underneath them; looking forward to that characteristic pose in a future post.

    • paridevita says:

      It’s about 60 here; dark, gloomy, with a chance of thunderstorms from now until, well, sometime later. The guy I live with put on sunscreen because the sun came out for about fifteen minutes and now he’s complaining about it. The only purebred border collie who lived here and was obsessed with food, beside the usual regular obsession, was Chess. I like food a lot, though. I hear I just got a shipment of Down Dog Snacks along with my flea-and-tick collar from Only Natural Pet so even though I reek I can have treats later. But anyway I don’t care for the beeping, like setting the stove, and then when the stove has reached the right temperature. Things like that.

  4. Nell says:

    The lilacs here, which are at least 75 years old, have had the fewest blooms ever, thanks probably to the second year in a row of drought from late summer all the way through fall. Time to saw out most of the old limbs and water them if necessary this fall; I miss that fragrance, which is 90% of their appeal. Hope ‘President Lincoln’ can shake off its affliction.

    • paridevita says:

      I guess ‘President Lincoln’ needs to be pruned but it wasn’t today. The guy I live with said that things haven’t been right with it for a while, maybe even fifteen years or more.

  5. Nell says:

    Oops, have just looked up the new manzanita and see that ‘Cascade’ describes its habit, so there won’t be room to lie beneath it. Beside it, then.

    • paridevita says:

      Well, ‘Cascade’ is an Arctostaphylos x coloradensis type, from hybrids swarms on the Uncompahgre Plateau (maybe somewhere else but that sounds cool). A. patula x uva-ursi. The uva-ursi part makes it a lot easier to grow. In theory. The story of attempts to establish manzanitas here is not a happy one, though some do thrive.

      • Lisa says:

        Wow, Mani! Impressive knowledge, even for a pure bred Border Collie! Of course, I’m not sure you didn’t just make all that up on the spot to impress us. For all I know you’re full of biscuits!
        My not-pure-bred Border Collie loves Lamb Chop toys too.

      • paridevita says:

        Pretty much everything is totally true. Except the oriole business. (Though we do have them.)

  6. tonytomeo says:

    Rhody got skunked . . . twice . . . and was quite proud of it. The skunks like to play, but Rhody gets too rowdy with them and throws them about until they get annoyed enough to skunk him. He then comes in to share it with everyone. Contrary to what he believes, skunkness is unpleasant.
    Anyway, what I am getting at is that you might want to try it. What would be even more efficient than getting skunked directly and then sharing it with everyone is getting the skunk to do all the work and ask him or her to skunk the entire month of May! Perhaps he or she could also skunk Denver, and retirement too, and anything and everything that smells like May or Denver or retirement, or Retirement in Denver in May!
    If that is too much to ask, perhaps you should just poop on it when the guy you live with does not have a baggie to clean it up with. That is an alternative technique Rhody taught me about. It is not as effective as skunking, but might suffice.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with told me that Slipper and Chess, two purebred border collies who lived here before me, once got completely sprayed by a skunk and no one knew it until the two of them had run downstairs and got on the bed there. Then everyone knew it. In fact everyone knew it when the guy I live with went to work the next day. He also says that he often meets people who are working and wished they could retire. In other words living for the future. Then he tells them his Retirement Story and they think about things a little bit more.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Some of us may never be able to retire. I am fortunate that I enjoy my work. I really have nothing to retire from.

      • paridevita says:

        Yes, well, we could tell the retirement story on a blog post, I suppose. I was pretty anxious last night because there was a thunderstorm at midnight. The guy I live with offered to have me get into bed with him but I hid in my fort. There’s a fifty percent chance of golfball-sized hail today. That doesn’t make the guy I live with as anxious as you might think, though.

      • tonytomeo says:

        He probably has a nice garage to park his cars in.

      • paridevita says:

        Just one car. An Outback, which is definitely in the garage. (I have to get to Day Care somehow, though we could walk, I guess.) There were two cars, but one was donated to charity a few years ago. In the big hailstorm here, June 1, 1991, the Toyota pickup parked in the driveway was totalled.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Are you certain it is an Outback? I always told Bill that his rusty blue Blazer was a shiny red Bravada. I felt guilty about that after you explained that he could see blue, so was therefore aware that it was not shiny red (before going blind). He just went along with the deception. Do you think that he knew it was not a Bravada, but just went along with it so that I would not feel guilty about the inadequacies of his coach?

      • paridevita says:

        It’s blue and says “Outback” on it. Funny story. When the car was purchased, the guy I live with said to the person writing up the sales ticket, or whatever, that “Subaru” was the Japanese term for the Pleiades. Blank look. The guy I live with said “The logo ….”

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yes, so it is related to Taurus. Privet liked his Taurus, but I told him it was a Sable. It did not occur to me that any of them could read. I doubt it mattered anyway. They all seemed to appreciate what we had, even if it was not compliant with their discriminating standards. Privet and Bill were of impeccable cultural refinement.

      • paridevita says:

        I’ve also ridden in a Crosstrek which the guy I live with said was sort of wine-colored.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Perhaps you should inform your chauffeur that you would prefer a more appropriate vehicle.

      • paridevita says:

        I liked going up into the mountains, riding in the Crosstrek, for sure.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Perhaps, but you would like going up into the mountains in anything. What you really deserve is a nice LeCrosse! When Bill came to live with me, we still had the old F250, which I though was excellent, but I promised him an Oldsmobile. We never got one; but when the Blazer arrived, I told him it was a Bravada, and he was cool with that.

      • paridevita says:

        The Crosstrek has a carabiner attached to the back seat, for my Roadie.

      • tonytomeo says:

        What is a Roadie? It sounds like Rhody’s name. Rhody is a terrier, so does not really need a name. No matter how much I use it, he ignores it.

      • paridevita says:

        Ruff Rider Roadie. Harness for riding in the car. Also has a leash. The short leash you see in most of the posts is a Ruff Rider leash.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Do you really need a leash to make sure the guy you live with stays out of trouble?

      • paridevita says:

        Well, the Roadie is for me riding in the car. I can ride in the back seat and have the windows open and be perfectly safe.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Rhody likes to put the top down. I do not know what is so great about the wind outside of the car. I stay behind the windshield.

      • paridevita says:

        It’s kind of a dog thing, really.

      • tonytomeo says:

        That is how Rhody politely explains that I would not understand.

      • paridevita says:

        Uh huh. That’s how it is.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Why is that Privet, Bill and now Rhody think that they are so dang smart?

      • paridevita says:

        It’s a dog thing. You might not understand.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Okay, that was a stupid question.

  7. The “beep”s must be really ooh-ooh scary if they force you behind your Personal Hill, Mani. Obviously, the stove should not be used. I do not understand the guy you live with’s unhappiness with retirement. Weren’t you telling us, very last post, how he did not like to be isolated fixing lines up high in a lightning storm? He does have excellent taste in plants. A garden is all the better for phlomis of any kind, and I cheer on the effort to grow the arctostaphylos. I could tell you sad stories about our attempts. I look forward to future posts about how the tomatoes are used, with photographs. I have every confidence this will not turn into a foodie blog, and birds and plants and skies will remain to reign supreme. But, still, tomatoes. Yay.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with said the oven was still going to be used and that I would just have to suffer. Retirement was supposed to be the two of them together, you know. Watching The Simpsons on a rainy night. (It rained here last night.) The guy I live with said that manzanitas are about the least easy plants to establish. Many sad stories could be told. About sixty stories altogether, all ending the same way. This probably won’t turn into a tomato blog. The number of tomatoes which have been grown here that wound up in sandwiches or in salads is pretty close to zero. It’s just a gesture.

  8. Barb K says:

    Ah, tomatoes. I planted 30 or so seeds of various types fully intending to thin. I have never been able to take the scissors and snip healthy seedlings and not surprisingly, I didn’t this time either. But even so, I probably won’t harvest that many. Growing vegetables seems hard even though everyone else seems to be able to do it. I, for one, would like to hear the retirement story. I share both the anxiety and the capacity for big mistakes. How about you, Mani? Do you ever make big mistakes?

    • paridevita says:

      I rarely make mistakes now. I did try to get a stink bug on the patio last night and was told Not To. The stink bug was collected but there was still a stink, on the patio and in the kitchen. The guy I live with said that was why he said Not To. The tomatoes were purchased so they got a head start. In theory. It hailed a bunch just now. No bigger than pea size. Film at eleven.

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